ROME, April 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope John Paul II was the “pope of the family” declared Pope Francis Sunday to great applause as he canonized the late pontiff along with Pope John XXIII before a packed congregation in St. Peter’s Square that overflowed across the streets of Rome.
In his homily, Pope Francis noted that St. John Paul II said himself that he wanted to be remembered as pope of the family. Francis prayed for the new saint’s intercession as the Church prepares for the Synod on the Family in October, saying that “from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains us.”
The pope noted that both John Paul II and John XXIII “lived through the tragic events of the century but they were not overwhelmed by them.”
The heart of the day’s feast, Divine Mercy Sunday, which was instituted by John Paul II himself, “are the glorious wounds [of Jesus],” said Francis.
“The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, but they’re also the test of faith,” he explained. “The wounds never pass away, they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God's love for us.”
Both John XXIII and John Paul II “were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus,” he said. “They were not … scandalized by him and his cross,” but “saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles.”
“These were two men of courage, filled with … the Holy Spirit,” he added. “In these two men … there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable joy.”
He said John XXIII’s great achievement was convening the Second Vatican Council, and called him “the pope of docility.”
St. John Paul II was famous for his courageous promotion of life and the family, bringing the message of the “gospel of life” wherever he travelled. Among his most beloved writings were his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, his 1994 Letter to Families, and his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio.
The canonization Mass has been dubbed the “mass of four popes” because Francis was joined in celebrating Mass by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
The Vatican estimated 800,000 attended the canonization, and said there were 2,259 journalists accredited from 64 countries.